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Agreement allows St. Mary's students to apply for fast track to UTHSC School of Allied Health Sciences

San Antonio (June 20, 2003) — St. Mary's University students who seek bachelor's and master's degrees in five allied health professions may take their last two or three years of courses at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSC) as part of a new cooperative program, the presidents of both institutions announced June 20.

Academically outstanding high school seniors who plan to study an allied health profession and attend St. Mary's will be eligible to enter the Collaborative Admissions Partnership for Health Professions Scholars. They may apply to be admitted to the UTHSC School of Allied Health Sciences to pursue bachelor's degrees in clinical laboratory sciences or respiratory care, or master's degrees in occupational therapy, physical therapy or physician assistant studies. Entrance is contingent on the applicant's completing at least 60 hours of prerequisites, usually in the sophomore year.

"Allied health professionals are a vital part of the health care team and they are in great demand throughout our region and state," said Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., UTHSC president. "This new partnership between the Health Science Center and St. Mary's will help young people to crystallize their interest in allied health careers and take the first steps toward obtaining the education necessary to obtain their goals."

"The early matriculation program with the Health Science Center offers a life-changing opportunity for St. Mary's students who will distinguish themselves through personal achievements both during and after their university studies," said Charles L. Cotrell, Ph.D., president of St. Mary's. "Graduates will be prepared for success in their personal and professional lives in allied health."

UTHSC and St. Mary's are plowing familiar ground. In May 2001, the two institutions announced a collaborative agreement for prospective medical students. That agreement provides a competitive early acceptance program for outstanding St. Mary's sophomores. In October 2001, Presidents Cigarroa and Cotrell announced a similar program for prospective nursing students. The first participants in both programs are enrolled at St. Mary's. Two St. Mary's juniors and five sophomores recently were accepted into the UTHSC School of Medicine.

The new partnership will enable better academic advising for students and greater opportunities for St. Mary's students to be exposed to School of Allied Health Sciences programs and faculty during the sophomore and junior year. "The agreement allows us to simplify the pipeline for students and help them to make more-informed career and education decisions," said Douglas L. Murphy, Ph.D., associate dean of the UTHSC School of Allied Health Sciences.

St. Mary's students who meet the stipulated requirements will be guaranteed admission under the agreement beginning this fall. Admissions will be based on applicants' academic potential and proven interest in becoming clinical laboratory scientists, physician assistants, or occupational, physical or respiratory therapists. It is anticipated that the first participants will enter the Health Science Center in 2005.

"During the program's first phase, students will complete prerequisite courses at St. Mary's and live on campus," said Anthony J. Kaufmann, Ph.D., dean of the School of Science, Engineering and Technology at St. Mary's. "The second phase consists of professional and clinical work at the Health Science Center and students can continue enjoying campus life at St. Mary's while pursuing their degrees."

The federally funded Health Careers Opportunities Program helps students develop the thinking, reading, writing, math and science skills necessary for pursuing a health career. HCOP will be one avenue for reaching students with information about the new allied health program. St. Mary's has designated Lucien Manchester, Ph.D., as the faculty adviser to these prospective students.

St. Mary's, established in 1852 as the first institution of higher learning in San Antonio, is nationally recognized for academic excellence and service to society. The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio has established itself as a major research institution, and its faculty members lead the state, nation and world in the discovery of new knowledge and the search for answers to society's health care needs.

Contact: Lucie Portela, UTHSC, (210) 567-2570, or Stacy Maloney, St. Mary's, (210) 431-4377